Flecks of gold

“And in a day we should be rich!” she laughed. “I’d give it to you, the pirate gold and every bit of treasure we could dig up. I think you would know how to spend it. Pirate gold isn’t to be hoarded or utilized. It is something to throw to the four winds, for the fun of seeing the gold specks fly!”

-Kate Chopin, The Awakening

I have loved this quote since reading The Awakening in college (the book featured in the introduction of my thesis) and it has been on my mind a lot in the last few days.  I have been thinking about it as something other than a joyful statement advocating spendthrift behavior.  I’ve been thinking about all the things that pirate gold is, in our lives, beyond actual gold.

The tiny things – tying cleats, reheating noodles, checking homework, driving to school on a rime-frosted morning, folding pajama bottoms – these are not things to be rushed through so that I can finally get to Life.  They are life.

They are the gold flecks of life itself.

Only when we realize that these moments are the gold of life do we fully appreciate the gorgeousness of their flight.  And, of course, the startling truth of their impermanence: what passes more quickly than gold flecks hurled into the wind?

I also read Chopin’s words, now, as an exhortation to spend, not to hoard: our time, our love, our energy, our spirit.  It’s such a cliche, but I also grow ever surer of its truth: we only have today.  So why save up for a future that is unsure?  Certainly, one of the basic planks of my personality is frugality, and you’ll never talk me out of that.  But I am aware of an instinct, in myself and in others, to sometimes hunker down, preserve, conserve.  As though somehow our energy and love are zero-sum affairs.  That may be true of energy, as I get older, but I’m sure love is limitless.  By spending it we just see more gold shimmering in the sky.

So I guess what I hear now, when I read this long-loved passage, is this: throw yourself out there, as much as you can.  And make sure you watch the incandescent gold pieces as they float by.  If you blink, you can miss them.  So watch.

13 thoughts on “Flecks of gold”

  1. thank you, lindsey, for the invitation to watch. committing this moment to being present and aware. to noticing and giving thanks. to savoring the gold.

  2. I read The Awakening in high school and its been too long. My worn copy has followed me through every room I’ve lived in since. It is a powerful book. And now I am sure I need to reread it.
    There is so much joy in the image of the glittering flecks of gold scattered by the winds. Life is truly for living, not hoarding or utilizing. Finding the moments that scatter and glitter, that bring joy and wonder, yes. I wonder, if like many pirates, we bury our treasure and forget where we put our maps. Better to enjoy it.

  3. Oh this is beautiful and just perfect for me to remember as I plan my wedding (!). Rather than rush and feel stressed about the planning moments, I vow to enjoy every minute and keep my eyes open so I can enjoy the pirate gold! Thanks L!

  4. Wow. This is pretty amazing. I am so miserly!! Especially today. I was going to retreat to my pirate cove, but maybe I’ll go throw some gold around.

    Thank you!!

  5. How beautiful. Both your thoughts and the idea that this passage that stirred you in youth would come to resonate in such a profound way later in life. You brought this one to mind for me…

    He who binds to himself a joy
    Does the winged life destroy;
    But he who kisses the joy as it flies
    lives in eternity’s sunrise.
    – William Blake

  6. Beautiful. Such truth-telling in your words – “…to spend, not to hoard: our time, our love, our energy, our spirit”

    If we could all live like that. H xo

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